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Bus users HOP to it

SIMON SMITH
Last updated 05:00 12/02/2014
Transport Ambassadors
HELPFUL SMILE: Auckland Transport ambassadors like Hilly Vuong will be out and about at Botany Town Centre telling bus users about AT HOP and selling the cards until a new kiosk opens later this month.

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The controversial HOP card is almost here.

Passengers who use Howick & Eastern Buses must pay their fares with the card or cash from this Sunday.

The transition to the HOP card, which will integrate ticketing across trains, buses and ferries, has caused problems for users in other parts of the city.

But Botany bus user Steve Paaske says it is a great idea.

"It will give me a discount and save the bus driver time changing money."

His only problem is where to get the card from, with a service centre at Botany Town Centre not scheduled to open for another week.

"You've got a big shopping complex here in Botany that you can't get a card from, it's pretty ridiculous."

Cards can be purchased online or at a limited number of retail outlets.

But some discounted rates can only be loaded up at one of nine service centres, an Auckland Transport spokeswoman says.

The closest until Botany opens are Britomart Newmarket and Manukau.

Howick and Eastern Ezi Pass holders can apply for a free HOP card, but bus user Ann Cressy says it was a hassle getting hers replaced.

"I had to ring up AT and then they got my details but for some reason it took two or three phone calls before they then registered me for a card," she says.

The Howick resident is also concerned about privacy with AT HOP.

"One thing I did object to was being asked a lot of personal details, and more than I would be prepared to give out just to catch a bus."

A refund is available on the bus company's Ezi Pass cards, but 10-trip tickets and other passes should be used up beforehand.

Howick & Eastern Buses manager Sheryll Otway says drivers have been training for months and the company is ready for the roll out.

"We will all be on deck on Sunday," she says.

"The introduction is all going well and we are really excited to have our employees so involved with the new technology."

The cost of an AT HOP card is $5, increasing to $10 on July 31.

The Auckland Transport spokeswoman says from Sunday children will still be able to get a concession by paying cash and showing identification to the driver.

Superannuitants and passengers with disabilities will also be able to present their identification for a discount. But cash discounts aren't available for other groups like tertiary students.

They have to get a discounted rate loaded onto a HOP card at a service centre.

AT HOP cards can be purchased online, taking up to 10 working days to arrive, or from four retailers across the eastern suburbs.

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Auckland Transport says shops in Howick and Bucklands Beach will be added soon. Current retailers are:

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Paper Plus, Highland Park shopping centre

Pakuranga Lotto, 20 Aylesbury St, Pakuranga

Kwik E Mart, 152 Chapel Rd, Flat Bush

Mayfield Superette, 15 Johnstones Rd, Otara

 

Visit athop.co.nz for more information and a city-wide list of retailers.

- Eastern Courier

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